Police, Army foil masquerade attacks on Christians in Anambra
MAYHEM was averted in Anambra state when on Tuesday, security agents foiled what would have been a tragedy as masquerade groups in Amichi attacked some Anglican worshipers during their Sunday outreach at Eke Amichi village square, Nnewi South Local Council of the state.
Security operatives comprising the Army, Police and Directorate of State Security (DSS) however saved the situation which was triggered by the occurrence on Sunday of the Ozumezu cultural festival which holds once in a month on any Eke market incidentally clashed with the day Anglican Diocese of Amichi holds its monthly outreach.
The battle line had already been drawn as irate Amichi youths wielding dangerous weapons including machetes and local guns surged forward to attack the defenseless Christians, who remained calm under the canopy mounted at the village square for the outreach.
It was also gathered that the youths believed to have been sponsored by some elders and stakeholders in the town had constantly been disrupting religious activities in the area.
The Guardian further gathered that some clergy and other church workers had earlier been attacked and their vehicles vandalised while a police officer on investigation also suffered the same fate as he was brutalised and assaulted.
Narrating the development to newsmen, the leader of the masquerade group, Mr. Amichi Okonkwo said they had warned the Anglican Bishop of Amichi, Rt. Rev E.O Ikeakor and the entire Anglican community to stay clear from the market square, especially on Sundays that fall on Eke when they usually gathered for the festival.
According to him, the Archdeacon and Cathedral administrator, Ven. Chukwuebuka Chukwuemeka insists that Sundays that fall on Eke market day is used by the Anglican communion as ‘Ozioma Okeke’, which, according to him, is not domiciled in Amichi alone but cuts across the Niger region.
He said, “Our Ezumezu festival is a monthly activity that holds on every Eke and Afo market days that fall on Sundays in a month. We begged him, including our elders to leave the two days alone for us to enable us promote our culture and do our own thing in our own way but he bluntly refused.
“He went to invite the police, army, SSS to arrest us for worshiping our own god in a country that has freedom of worship. We have been doing this festival before he came”.
But, Ven. Chukwuebuka argued that the church agrees that Nigerian constitution guarantees freedom of worship and expression, adding that the church position is that, “ they should allow us to worship our God because we have never disturbed them. We did not even say that they should not hold their festival, and telling us not to go for outreach on certain Sunday is what we disagree with. Everybody knows that Christians worship their God on Sundays”.
In his reaction, the traditional ruler of the community , Igwe Offobuike Ezeoke admitted there was a crisis situation in his community but he remained non partisan on the both sides as his interest is for all the parties to perform accordance with freedom of worship doctrine in the country without infringing on anothers’ freedom of worship.